When Lake Wales gathers on April 30 to celebrate the life, legacy and work of Frederick Olmsted Sr., local residents will be paying homage to more than just the famed landscape architect whose influence is still very much alive in the city today.
By 1929 when city leaders hired his son Frederick Olmsted Jr. to create a master plan to enhance the city’s “City in a Garden” concept – developed in Great Britain around 1900 – Lake Wales and its founding fathers had more than a decade ago embraced the concept.
Attractive streets, paved sidewalks, wonderful foliage, beautiful flowers and a network of trails are components of the “City in a Garden” concept.
“I believe that Bullard and Johnson and Tillman and Stuart, who created the Lake Wales Land Company, were influenced strongly by the Garden City plan and directly incorporated that concept in the design for their planned city,” said Robert Connors, author of two novels based on Florida history and a former president of Lake Wales Heritage, Inc.
Today’s award-winning “Lake Wales Connected” development plan relies heavily on trees and trails to help restore that vision. The new Park Avenue Connector Trail is the City’s first step in establishing a network of trails linking residents to parks and area establishments.
It is exactly something Olmsted and the Founding Fathers would clearly applaud.
“They wanted to create this resort town, this planned city in such a way that it preserved all the parks around the lake. It was intended to be a ‘garden city’ from the get go,” Connors said.
Olmsted’s work was well known to city leaders. He had helped plan many of the houses and landscapes at Mountain Lake, and the gardens and landscaping at Bok Tower.